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Even with rare hearing disorder, Santa Barbara resident wins honors and begins protocol changes at her college

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A 22-year old student from Santa Barbara has graduated with a special honor from her college and may have made a change for future students.

Leah Martin began losing her hearing at age 11.

It's called reverse slope hearing loss where the low tones are not as audible as high tones.

While attending the College of Charleston, Martin encouraged the school to approve American Sign Language (ASL) as an approved foreign language.

Martin said, "there was a lot of, I would say, myth believing. They thought that ALS which was the acronym for American Sign Language  was English with our hands or too easy to learn.  That couldn't be farther from the truth. Both of those things are very untrue.  We needed to educate the  faculty to get everyone on the right page."

Martin was honored for her unselfish contribution to the student body. With this award she was also allowed to speak about her condition at graduation and encourage changes on the campus for future students.

She visited her family in Santa Barbara this week and is now in Seattle where she has been hired by Amazon as an account manager. In college she was able to get an internship with Google.

Martin also says she will work with the company to assist hearing impaired workers and customers.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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